Holocene paleoenvironmental history of Jackson Lake (Grand Teton National Park, USA) deduced from CHIRP seismic reflection and radiocarbon-dated sediment cores

J. R. Dilworth, M. M. McGlue, R. J. Thigpen, S. J. Brown, K. M. Yeager, Edward Woolery, S. E. Johnson, S. J. Whitehead, C. J. Cortese, C. Matocha

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Sedimentary records from Jackson Lake (Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA) provide an opportunity to investigate the Late Quaternary tectonic and hydroclimatic history of a region known to have considerable earthquake hazard potential. Here, we present a new paleoenvironmental reconstruction for Jackson Lake using high-resolution Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse (CHIRP) seismic reflection data and sediment cores from Moran Bay, which is adjacent to the active Teton fault on the southwestern lake margin. Three seismic units (SU) are present within Moran Bay. The lowermost SU-1 defines the acoustic basement, which is characterized by a sharp reflector of variable relief above material with a very low signal-to-noise seismic response; direct sampling reveals this unit to be glaciogenic in origin. SU-2 contains diverse acoustic facies that onlap, downlap, and drape underlying strata. Prominent in SU-2 are faulted, folded, and slumped reflections with mixed amplitude characteristics, as well as reflections organized into prograding clinoforms, which suggest a history of deformation and slope instability in fluvio-deltaic and shallow lacustrine environments. A local unconformity separates SU-2 and SU-3, and above this boundary clinoform packages backsteps towards the hinterland. A bi-directionally tapering package of low-moderate amplitude, continuous to semi-continuous reflections onlap the clinoform; this unit was fully cored (13.8 m), allowing the unit boundary to be sampled and dated. Radiocarbon ages indicate that the core spans ca. 10.4 calibrated kiloyears before present (cal ka BP) to present. Retrogradational stacking of deltaic clinoforms are best explained by increased accommodation in Moran Bay around ca. 10 ka, consistent with a major earthquake and hanging wall subsidence on the Teton fault. Two turbidites identified in the strata align temporally (ca. 10.3 ± 0.4 cal ka BP and ca. 8.3 ± 0.3 cal ka BP) with earthquakes on the Teton fault that have been identified in terrestrial and lacustrine paleoseismic records. From ca. 10.4–6.6 cal ka BP core sediments are relatively rich in clay with highly variable magnetic susceptibility and organic carbon content. Deposition during this period was influenced by an evolving stream network and a relatively dry paleoclimate. From ca. 6.6–2.7 cal ka BP core sediments have higher sand and organic carbon contents, suggesting variable fluvial discharge and climate instability. The youngest core records produced a sharp increase in sedimentation rate, sand and organic carbon content, propelled by greater effective moisture, higher lake levels, and increasing watershed vegetation density. Based on clinoform rollover position, water levels at ∼2,046, ∼2,049, ∼2,053, and 2063 m asl characterized Moran Bay during the Holocene. Together, the seismic and core data records indicate a complex and dynamic Holocene lacustrine evolution controlled by fault motion and water level changes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108748
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - Jul 15 2024

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© 2024 Elsevier Ltd

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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